Disney’s latest computer-animated spectacle Raya and the Last Dragon arrives amid pervasive division that continues to define the current moment, and the film is an earnest attempt by the studio to meet it headfirst thematically. Now, the Mouse House is no stranger to stories of heroes who save the day by bringing opposing factions together. Nor has the larger corporate entity shied away from stories that telegraph their timeliness or cultural urgency to overly simplified, emptily hashtaggy results (think Elsa’s hyper-vaguely examined queerness, Captain Marvel‘s even vaguer ideas on female power, etc.). Emotion is also something that Disney’s brand of filmmaking has fallen into more cynical and mechanical tactics of late. But in presenting a divided world brought together by its titular heroine, Raya and the Last Dragon succeeds at telling a story of reconciliation thanks to its well-developed emotional underpinnings, achieving in something that resonates in quite welcome and modest ways.Continue reading “In Review: Raya and the Last Dragon”
In Review!: “Coco”
In an attic hideout, young Miguel not only hides a stash of memorabilia of legendary musician Ernesto de la Cruz, but also his own secret longing to become a musician himself. Trouble is, his small village life in Mexico is already predetermined to follow in his family tradition of making shoes and shunning music. But the discovery that Cruz is the great-great grandfather that abandoned the family and spurred their rules against music sends Miguel on a journey to the spirit world to reconcile the two halves of his heart. In so many ways, Coco feels deeply personal.